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New England Patriots take a leap into the future and draft QB Jimmy Garoppolo

Former Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo takes part in the broad jump during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 23, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Reality is beginning to set in for fans of the New England Patriots. Star quarterback Tom Brady is 37 years old and is not going to be around forever, even if he wants to be. The Patriots are very well aware of this also and used their second-round pick Friday night on a player who could be Brady's successor. With the 62nd pick in the NFL draft, the Patriots selected quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo out of Eastern Illinois.

The selection drew mixed reactions as some fans and experts felt the Patriots could've used the pick on other positions that can help the team win now. But with a player like Garoppolo slipping that far down, Bill Belichick and company jumped on the opportunity to bring in a talented player who can learn in the system under Tom Brady for the next couple years. The selection also means that current backup QB Ryan Mallett is not that person.

Garoppolo really started making a name for himself after he won the Walter Payton Award in 2013 for throwing for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns. His stock as a quarterback really begin to rise after he had a solid week at the Senior Bowl, impressing many and even drawing some comparisons to a fellow Eastern Illinois alum, Tony Romo.

Although selecting Garoppolo at the spot that they did was a surprise, it is no surprise that the Patriots were attracted to some of the intangibles Garoppolo possesses, mainly his ability to make quick decisions at the line of scrimmage and his quick release. Belichick took a better now than later approach with the selection. He said, "The situation we have at quarterback, I think we felt as an organization that we needed to address that to some degree in the future. We'll see how that all works out, but I think you're better off being early rather than late at that position."

Jimmy Garoppolo was just as surprised as most everyone else that the Patriots were the team that landed him. But the excited young quarterback is excited and eager to get to work and learn under a player who he has modeled his game after. He is also already sounding like a Patriots quarterback.

"I feel good about it. It's one of those things, whether I was coming in as a starter or as a backup, I'm gonna go in and approach it the same way either way," Garoppolo said on a teleconference with reporters from New York City. "My mindset is the same as it would be as if I was going in as a starter. I'm going to go out there and try and get better each and every day. That's what good football players do."

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